People > Arsames (Satrap of Cilicia)

Arsames (Satrap of Cilicia)


Arsames was a satrap of Cilicia who attempted to stop the advance of Alexander the Great at the Battle of the Granicus. He managed to survive the encounter and fled to his hometown of Tarsus where he attempted to evacuate his people. However, he was unsuccessful and later killed during the Battle of Issus.

Arsames was an influential Persian nobleman and satrap (governor) of Cilicia during the late 6th and early 5th centuries BCE. He served under the Achaemenid Empire, primarily during the reigns of Darius I and Xerxes I. Here's a detailed overview of his life and significance: Arsames hailed from a prominent Persian family. He was part of the Achaemenid aristocracy, which held significant power and influence within the empire. Cilicia, located in southeastern Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), was a strategically important satrapy due to its location and resources.

As satrap of Cilicia, Arsames had administrative, military, and economic responsibilities. He acted as the local representative of the Persian king, overseeing the collection of taxes, maintenance of order, and defense of the region. Cilicia was notable for its fertile lands and important trade routes, which made it a valuable satrapy within the Achaemenid Empire.

Administration and Governance:

Arsames was known for his capable administration of Cilicia. His governance likely included fostering economic prosperity, managing local affairs, and ensuring loyalty to the Persian king. His rule in Cilicia would have involved balancing the interests of the local population with the demands of the Persian central government.

Arsames is recorded as having played a role in the major military campaigns of the Achaemenid Empire. This included the suppression of revolts and participation in the empire's expansionist endeavors. His tenure as satrap coincided with significant events such as the Ionian Revolt (499-494 BCE), where satraps like him were crucial in maintaining the empire's stability.

Ionian Revolt and Later Conflicts:

During the Ionian Revolt, Arsames would have been involved in the efforts to quell the rebellion and reassert Persian control over the rebellious Greek city-states in Ionia. His actions during this period would have been critical in supporting the larger strategic objectives of the Persian Empire in the region. Arsames' influence persisted beyond his tenure as satrap. His descendants and family connections continued to play significant roles within the Achaemenid administrative and military framework.

Historical Significance:

Arsames is often noted for his loyalty and effectiveness as a satrap, qualities that were essential for the maintenance of the Achaemenid Empire's extensive territories. His administration of Cilicia is an example of the effective provincial governance that characterized the Achaemenid approach to managing its diverse empire.

Documentation and Sources:

Our knowledge of Arsames primarily comes from classical sources, administrative records, and inscriptions from the Achaemenid period. These sources highlight the administrative efficiency and military capabilities of Persian satraps like Arsames, who played crucial roles in the empire's operations. Arsames' governance and military actions during key conflicts like the Ionian Revolt contributed to the broader narrative of Persian-Greek interactions.

These interactions eventually culminated in the Greco-Persian Wars, shaping the course of ancient history. In summary, Arsames, as the satrap of Cilicia, was a significant figure in the Achaemenid administration, known for his effective governance and military involvement. His contributions to maintaining Persian control in a strategically important region underscore his importance in the broader context of the Achaemenid Empire's history.

Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: a historical biography By Peter Green

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